Sit down. We need to talk. (Yes, there will be cookies.)


I know you’re busy. Me too. But, please, sit down a minute.


Art Institute of Chicago, photo by Vicky Lorencen

We need to talk.

Yes, you can grab a cookie and that pillow.

Comfy now?


That’s what we need to talk about.

Now, I don’t mean the hazelnut cocoa with an extra dollop of marshmallow fluff kind of sweet (as delightful as that is).

Wait. Please come back. I’ll make you some cocoa when we’re done, okay?

Now,  back to sweet. See, sweet, to me, means empathy, compassion, sensitivity and awareness of others (people, critters, nature, you know, the world around us). It’s one of the best parts of us.

But trust me, being sweet is not for sissies, especially if you intend to stay that way. You gotta be vigilant about protecting your sweetness–now, more than ever ever ever.

Why am I making a fuss with all this “sweetness jazz”?

Fair question. My answer: because children.

You and I write for them. We must sign on to be one of their tenderizers. Through our stories, we can show little ones what empathy looks like, even in–and especially in–painful, challenging, heart-searing circumstances infested with tough choices. We can introduce kids to diverse people and let them see in natural, everyday ways the value of sweetness with each interaction.

Child development researcher L. R. Knost, said, “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

I love that . . . “Make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” Amen.

What’s that? Am I suggesting you be a “Polly Anna Pushover Nanny Pants”?

Uh, not sure what that is exactly, but um, no. Staying sweet can take a lot of grit. Don’t be a door mat. Don’t be a cream puff. You know that.

Be you – the best tender, kind, compassionate, welcoming, sweet you you can be. And write the tenderizing stories only you can. And as you do that, gosh, oh my. The world is lucky to have you here. I am lucky to have you here. Children are even luckier.

So, that’s it. That’s our talk. Thanks for listening.


Sure, you can take a cookie with you.

Everyone carries an atmosphere about him. It may be healthful and invigorating, or it may be unwholesome and depressing. It may make a little spot of the world a sweeter, better, safer place to live in; or it may make it harder for those to live worthily and beautifully who dwell within its circle. ~ J.R. Miller


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